Bills GM Buddy Nix addressed the media today for a season-wrapping press conference this afternoon. You can read the transcript here. The always-candid Nix touched on a variety of topics including the following:
Bringing back free agent WR Stevie Johnson: “We do want him back,” said Nix. “I know that you think about the antics and the penalties and obviously we’re not happy about that. I don’t think Stevie is either. We’re around him a lot. I know the things he does at practice. He practices hurt and I think he’s a team guy. Yeah we want him back.”
On whether Stevie’s past issues with celebration penalties will be held against him: “That’s behind us. I don’t think he’d intentionally do something to hurt our team. I really don’t. I know it. He tries to do the right thing when he’s playing. He tries to do the right thing in practice. He’s not a criminal. He made a mistake, it cost us and he paid the price. Now he may do it again. If he does we’ll deal with it. That doesn’t affect what we trying to get done with him.”
On if the team intends to give Fred Jackson a contract extension: “Fred and I have talked. We want to extend Fred. I’d like for Fred to finish his career as a Bill. He’s meant a lot to us. I’ve got great respect for him. I’ve told him that. We’re going to try to get something done.
“Does it matter if we do it now or if we do it next week or a month from now? As long as we get it done before the season starts it’s all the same really. It’s not like he’s going to get hurt playing now, but we do want Fred back and we do intend to try to work out a deal with him. I’ve told him that. I’m going to tell him again this week. Just to reassure him that what we said is what we’re going to do.”
On what was wrong with the defense in 2011: “I think there’s a lot of things. I think one of the things is to me having coached defense for years and that doesn’t mean I know everything about it which I don’t, but if you can keep things simple and keep it basic where guys play hard. If you’re having to think and play defense you’re probably a step late. I think some of that will help us. We had too many missed assignments and that kind of thing and I’m certainly not blaming anybody.”
“We also didn’t have good enough players at every position, so to fix it I think our secondary everything would look better if we had some pressure on the passer. If you can’t disrupt passers in the NFL and make them get out of rhythm and make them move any of them will wear you out. We had some rookies that looked like Dan Marino and we let them look like that because we let them stand there. You’ve got to disrupt the quarterback.”
On LB Shawne Merriman and if he still fits into the team’s plans: “We knew he had injuries. We knew there were things that may crop up. Right now he’s in the process. He’s been through the surgery. He had his shoulder fixed. He’s in the process of rehabbing and getting healthy. He’ll have a physical this spring, he’ll have another one this summer. If he gets healthy and passes the physical, he’s still ours. We’ll take it from there. We’ll see what happens.”
His confidence level in Ryan Fitzpatrick: I’ve got no reservations about Ryan. He had some bad games. The thing we know for sure is that we’ve seen him do it. We’ve seen him have good games. He’s what we thought he would be. I think when we started losing players and losing weapons for him he compensated by trying to carry the load some and playing with different receivers each week. Sounds like excuses, but they’re reasons. Another thing with Ryan is the interceptions and the things that he did that were turnovers toward the end of the year, had we wanted to keep those down and had he been the kind of guy that you’d run the ball more you wouldn’t take chances but you’re down 30 points and he’s still trying to score. That didn’t matter. He’s got a gun slinger mentality. I think you’ve got to rein that in a little bit and make good judgments but he’s, if we put good people around him we can get to the dance with Ryan.
On C.J. Spiller’s emergence late in the season: “Everybody’s been surprised, I guess, about C.J. except us. We always knew, I think, what we had. Everybody talks about ‘he’s learned to run, he’s learned how to run,’ and obviously all of them learn things. But with C.J., the opportunity is what he needed and he got it when Fred [Jackson] got hurt and he’s what we thought he’d be. I’ve been one of the few, I think, and I wish I’d wait a couple of years to say this so I can say ‘I told you so,’ but I was one of the few that thinks that C.J. can run inside and be a workhorse kind of back. I don’t think he’s a 25 or 30 play a game deal but I think he can run inside the tackles. He’s done that. He’s stronger than you think he is. He’s 200 pounds. He’s a tough guy.”
So, a lot to digest there. But some interesting insights into the thoughts of the man running the Bills. I’ll say this for Buddy – he doesn’t sugarcoat things. He says what he thinks.
We’ll break down some of his thoughts tomorrow.